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Not the Biggest Deal
Author's note: There were so many different things that inspired me to write this story, most of them having to do with what I deal with every day. I can't even to begin to describe how writing this book has helped me cope with the pain and has also changed my own perspective on my life. If there is one things that I want my readers to get out of this story is that being the child of an alcoholic is one of the hardest things you can imagine. I have blamed myself for years of drinking and I finally realized through writing this that it wasn't my fault for the problem. But instead I was just a victim.
I was sitting on the couch doing homework like any other 6th grader would, when I saw Dad pour his first drink. I saw the pure relief that filled his eyes when he saw the bottle sitting in the cabinet and the anxiety that soon followed when he put the bottle away, knowing that the drink sat on the kitchen counter. Being the 6th grader I was, I thought nothing of it. He had drinks every night so why was tonight any different, but soon he came back. His 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th drink rolled around and from what I could see he wasn’t going to make an attempt on trying to stop anytime soon.
I could see he wasn’t the same man I knew as Dad, but instead a stranger. He stood with glossed over eyes, a wobbly stance and a drink in hand. I locked eyes with him, which might have been one of the worst decisions I had ever made. He slowly started walking towards me with a slick grim on his face, and a wobble that took over his body. I was scared beyond life itself, what was he going to do? Why can’t he walk straight? He swayed from side to side as he got closer, he was within 2 feet when he fell. He sat on the floor with a stunned surprised look on his face. His already glossy eyes became balls of fog and he slumped over onto the floor. Was he dead? Soft snores started to come out of the body mass that laid in front of me, letting me know that he didn’t die but instead fell asleep. Who is this man?
I ran, I did the only thing that I knew how to do. I ran to the breaking tree house that sat in the middle of the yard. As I tried to climb the ladder, I slipped and plummeted to the ground below me. Tears started to pour out as I sat on the ground. I wasn’t crying because of the fact that I was hurt, but instead for the first time I was crying for something much bigger. I was scared, scared beyond belief because I had no clue what I had just witnessed. What was going on? Who was that man?
Remarkable the next day he went back to being the Dad I knew, the man who ignored me and who really didn’t give two cents about what I do. He walked around the house that next day like nothing had ever happened the night before . . . almost as if last night really didn’t happen.
That day I didn’t know what was going on with Dad, and I really didn’t know what to think about it. It was like he forgot swaying and falling, and the fact that he fell asleep right in front of me without going to bed. He didn’t care about what happened the night before, so why should I? Dad drank his cocktails like any other night, no big deal.
My first real memory of my new life. For almost a year, that was my new motto: Dad drinks his cocktails, gets super happy, and falls asleep.. no big deal. Every night it was the same routine and after a while I learned that it really wasn’t a big deal that he drank all night.
Night after night I dealt with the happy Dad. He started playing outside with us, started to play games at night and he finally started to be the Dad that we never had. That didn’t last long though, as soon as it started it ended. He started to become the old Dad again, instead of playing he started to to ignore us and start sleeping more. He wasn’t like he was before, but he started to become mean, disapproving and a complete stranger again. Instead of playing, he sat in the black chair and watched old movies, and instead of eating with us he would take his drink with him and eat in the other room.
“Dad?” I said while standing in front of the tv trying to get him to help me with my math homework.
“Abby, go away - the movie is starting - get out of the way,” he was swatting his hands for extra emphasis.
I walked away with tears lining my eyes. Who is this monster and what happened to the fun dad?
I tried to understand what happened, how could someone just change in a few nights. I watched from afar, I watched what he did, how he acted and exactly how many drinks he had. Somehow he was still drinking the same exact amount he was before... but he still just sat in the black chair watching tv. He rarely talked with anyone, and when he did he was always in a fowl mood. That night he never left the playroom, he only left to go to the bathroom, get something to eat and the thing that he got up the most to was to refill his glass. Something had changed, but I couldn’t figure out what changed.
Instead of trying to be the Dad that my brother, sister and I needed, every night he would isolate himself from us. Instead of having dinner with us or making an effort to talk to us, he drank himself to sleep every night. We learned that as Dad got angrier, we left him alone and only talked to him when we needed something and life would be fine.
Month after month passes, and it became a way of life for us. I thought things were finally getting back to the new normal, when things took a turn for the worse. I found out what was really happening.
I could never think of him the same. I could never go and just forget what has happened and I could never go back to who I was. I knew what happened every night, but I really didn’t know what was really going on. Dad was an alcoholic. I walked around the house with an empty feeling, not knowing how to answer the questions that were going through my head. So I did what I was told to never do. I googled. I opened the google homepage and slowly typed Alcoholic into the search bar. Tears slowly filled up my eyes as I clicked on the first link. Heart Disease, Liver Disease, Cancer, all Vital Organ Failure and in rare cases- Death. I didn’t know what to do, so I did what I knew would be right, I cried. For once instead of crying for everyone else who is getting hurt, I cried for myself. I cried for the fact that I don’t have a Dad anymore, my family is being torn apart from the inside out and I cried because it hurt. It hurt because I knew that there was a reason he drank, and most likely it was because of us.
I fell into a deep hole after that, sadness over took me. I put on a happy face for the outside world, and everyone believed that I was a sweet girl who tried to make everyone happy. I tricked the system into thinking I was someone who I wasn’t. When I was with others, I believed that I was the person I pretended to be, but when I got home I changed into who I really was. I felt the sadness and the anger slowly getting exposed when I was home, I was always either angry or sad. Anger and sadness ran my life, and they still do. I have to watch my life fall apart and I can’t do anything about it.
Everyday it felt like the weight of the world was sitting on my shoulders. I was reading a book and it got me thinking, maybe cutting would stop all the anger and sadness. I thought about it, but I realized that instead of getting rid of my problem, I was just creating another one. I started talking, and somehow I felt a little piece of the world come off my shoulders. Mom was my savior, because without talking to her, I really don’t know what i would have done to myself. Every time I talked to her, let myself get all my feelings out., which in return let me be me. I opened my eyes and saw that I wasn’t alone, everyone has family issues, but mine is just bigger than others.
I talked, but somehow it never stopped the drinking. I wanted everything to end, the sadness, the anger and I just wanted Dad to be a normal dad. I wanted him to come cheer me on at volleyball games and talk to me about how my day went, I wanted just a little bit of normal in my life. I still tried to ignore the drinking, but somehow everything lead back to the drinks.
I never thought I really had a Dad. I knew that the man who slept in the next room over was my Dad, but he was a stranger to me. When I look at him compared to other dad I see a man standing there, not a Dad. He drank starting at lunch just so he could make it through the day, while all of the other Dads drank their soda happily. He would never come to any school or sporting events without being forced, and when he did he always had his “lucky” flask in hand. Weekends would be the worst, for the drinking started at 11 and didn’t end. He could be careless and sloppy, but the fact was that he drank himself to sleep every night. On weekends he didn’t go to anything, but instead stayed home and cleaned his bathroom over and over again. The weekends were only an excuse for a longer drinking day to him, and the weekdays were just shorter drinking days. He didn’t have boundaries when it came to his drinking, and the earlier he started, the worse our lives were. Instead of ignoring the drinking at night and on weekends, I decided to pay closer attention.
He started about five minutes after he walked through the door and while I sat watching, I saw as he eyes would slowly travel into the kitchen that held his escape. As soon as mom left the room, he slowly shuffled into the kitchen to grab his yellow cup. The cup was worn down, chipped on the top and the paint was slowly falling off within. He would pour the drink and he would not let it out of his sight after that.
Every night I watched him do the same thing; come in, wait, shuffle then drink the night away. Those nights were the hardest, when he started right after work and not stop until bed. I could feel the tension within the house every time he walked through the door, Mom would become more angry as time went on and I started to lose hope that my life would ever become normal again.
It has been almost two years since I discovered my Dad had a drinking problem and in those two years I have discovered so many new things about my life. Dad drinks almost a ¼ of a bottle. . . a night, and on a normal Saturday night. . . almost a full bottle. After he drinks ⅓ of a bottle, he becomes a monster in my eyes.
“Dad . . . Stop! Gosh you don’t care about anything! I can’t do everything around here,” I was screaming at him as loud as my body allowed me to.
“Abby I AM your father, and you will do what I say you will do,” He was screaming but you could hear the pauses in between his works as he tried to concentrate on walking and screaming without falling. While looking him straight in the eyes, I got up and walked away.
I walked away, for the first time. I watched his glazed over eyes watch me walk right past him. I could see in his eyes that he was fuming with anger, but I still walked right past him. He wasn’t worth my fight, not tonight, not ever. As I was walking up the stairs, I heard the fridge dispense ice into a plastic cup and the cabinet opening. He was so angry that he needed to pour himself a drink, but of course he needed to relieve himself of that stress that I caused him. Drinking came before anything in his life, and our relationship.
White Castle, Louisiana
Oro Valley, Arizona
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